The village of Sidford with its population of just over 2000, sits astride the intersection of two major local routes. The first is the main coastline road, the A375, that forms the major road link for all the seaside towns and villages in East Devon. Crossing this at Sidford is the main route from the close neighbour and regency seaside resort town of Sidmouth, to the historic market town of Honiton that lies 'just over the hill from Sidbury'.
Sidbury, Sidford and Sidmouth are all located along the River Sid from which they obviously derive their names. However, the fording place of the river from which Sidford takes its name has long been replaced by a bridge. The current stone bridge actually dates back to Norman times.
Despite its small size, the village boasts of a small number of
nineteenth century parish church, two public houses, a village hall, a
garage, and two large recreation fields. The first of these recreation
the home of the village's amateur football team that competes in the Devon
and Exeter Football League. It is also the site of a set of slides
and swings whose ancestors I remember from my childhood days.
The second recreation field is used by Sidmouth Rugby Club and in my teenage years it was also used on occasion by Sidmouth Community College rugby teams. Playing for the King's School, Ottery St. Mary, and Honiton Rugby Club's Under 19 colts side, I took part in a number of victories over our bitter Sidmouth rivals on these fields. If we ever lost a game held there I have long forgotten about it. The recreation fields are also the starting point of a beautiful walk through the East Devon countryside to the riverside Byes gardens in the heart of Sidmouth.
Sidford has a number of buildings that date back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries but the controversial traffic lights at the crossroads in the centre of the village are a much more recent and, for more traditional residents, unwelcome addition to the village.
Over the years both Sidmouth and Sidford have extended their residential housing along the B3175 road that joins them. You have to have sharp eyes to spot the sign that indicates that you have crossed from Sidford to Sidmouth or vice-versa. This is quite a busy road at the best of times and we used to live quite close to it, at the top of South Lawn. The proximity of this road meant that we had to find our family's first dog a new home because the stupid King Charles Spaniel would keep insisting on running off and sitting on the white lines painted in the middle of the road.
I have a number of other childhood memories of Sidford; playing in the old orchard that is now the car park and grass area behind the small super market, for example. The orchard had a bank with two rows of low trees that formed a challenging 'keep your feet off the ground all the way around' game that consumed many happy hours for my friends and myself. The stalled building site for the residential home and new housing estate in South Lawn formed an additional temporary and more dubious playground; something that would definitely fall into the 'not allowed because it is not safe' category these days.
With other beautiful footpaths to Sidbury, up to Firebeacon Hill, and across to Fortescue Road and Salcombe Hill beyond, Sidford certainly holds its own, and arguably punches well above its weight, for those that enjoy walking and hiking in the countryside. For those that need sustenance after exploring the area, there is the restored fourteenth century Blueball Inn and the sixteenth century Salty Monk Hotel.